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What is an electric car battery?

An electric car battery accumulates rechargeable electricity and is specifically designed to power the engines of electric vehicles (EVs), as well as hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) and plug-in hybrids (PHEV).

When talking about electric car batteries, what are called traction batteries often come up; their nature and function are different from the traditional starter batteries found in internal combustion vehicles. Starter batteries are used to start combustion vehicle engines when the alternator is off and power the vehicle’s accessory circuits, such as the lights and the sound system. When the starter battery makes the engine start, fossil fuel keeps it running.

On the other hand, traction batteries are responsible for feeding the powertrain for vehicles with electric motors.

What types of electric car batteries are there?

There are many technologies competing to meet the need for energy storage and release that’s required by electric vehicles. Among these, the following types of traction batteries are particularly noteworthy:

  • Li-on: lithium-ion batteries. They are the kind most widely used today by most electric vehicles. They use lithium salt as an electrolyte. Their components are lightweight and offer a high charge capacity with a lower memory effect. As for disadvantages, they are sensitive to extreme temperatures.
  • Li-Po: Lithium-ion polymer batteries. These are similar to Li-on batteries, but they use a polymer electrolyte instead of a liquid electrolyte. This allows for greater flexibility in their shape and size, making them suitable for compact vehicle designs.
  • LiFePO4: lithium iron phosphate batteries. They have a high thermal stability. They are less prone to overheating or combustion, so they are preferred in more extreme climates or situations that require greater safety.

What are the characteristics to look for in an electric car battery?

The most important properties to check for in a traction battery are:

  • The capacity, or the amount of electrical energy it can store. The capacity of an electric car battery is measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh).
  • The charging time the battery needs to reach its maximum storage capacity. Advances in fast charging technology have made it possible to cut these times considerably.
  • The life cycle, or the number of times the battery can be drained and recharged before its capacity degrades significantly. A long life cycle is more desirable for financial and ecological reasons.
  • Safety in terms of the possible leakage of hazardous substances, overheating, or combustion. Modern batteries are manufactured with multiple layers of protection to prevent these risks.

The field of electric car batteries is currently in a stage of growth, at a time when electric motors are being presented as the best alternative for the transition of an automotive fleet that is dependent on fossil fuels. In the last 30 years, the price of batteries has gone down by 97%, while the efficiency of the technologies available on the market has continued to increase considerably.

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